Organizations are full of people who are trying to avoid or shade reality. Why do people do this? In some cases they are hiding mistakes, or buying time to figure out a solution rather than admit they don’t have an answer at the moment. Sometimes it’s to avoid confrontations or to camouflage a disappointing result.
Reading about Apple’s recent World Wide Developer’s Conference (WWDC) and the dramatic presentations, delivered in classic, high-profile “Steve Jobs” mode, really didn’t match up with the relatively modest product improvements that were being introduced; which were primarily reasonable upgrades to their existing lines.
For example, Tim Cook, Apple CEO, described the new version of the operating system for the iPhone called iOS7 as having “amazing new features and a stunning new user interface.” The Wall Street Journal the next day highlighted the key features of iOS7 as being new fonts and more colors! Steve Jobs always waited until the end of the big shows for some sensational new piece of technology. Tim Cook did the same thing at the WWDC; it was iTunes Radio. As the technology writers quickly pointed out, with iTunes Radio, Apple is finally getting in to streaming music to compete with the likes of Spotify and Pandora, introduced several years ago. In summary, Apple’s facts simply didn’t match its words.
What’s the impact when this kind of exaggeration or mismatch between facts and the words & pictures happens? One’s reputation gets hurt quite significantly.
Stepping back from all of this, there are some good reminders here that all of us need to keep in mind:
1.) Realism is Highly Valued – Certain individuals gain a highly positive reputation over time due to always being totally objective. Constantly being realistic and objective about the facts is a trait that is highly valued and sought after in any organization.
2.) Misrepresenting the Facts is Deadly – It’s amazing how one incident will stick in your mind about an individual avoiding or shading reality. In the case of the Apple example above, you need only read the press in the few days after that conference to realize the technology community clearly now believes that Apple is struggling with innovation and genuinely missing Steve Jobs.
3.) Realism is Sometimes Painful – There will be occasions when your boss or your boss’s boss will not be able to cope with reality. Don’t let this influence you. You are hopefully developing a reputation as objective and decisive in reading situations correctly.
In summary, stick to facts and don’t embellish!